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Thursday, June 28, 2012

ObamaCare Decision -- The Good and the Bad

As you all doubt know by now, the Supreme Court has upheld all relevant portions of ObamaCare, including the individual mandate. (Text of the opinion here).

Frankly, there are pluses and minuses to a universal health insurance system, and obvious trade offs--you can't have your cake and eat it too. And a universal health insurance system might have been palatable. However, ObamaCare didn't create a universal health insurance system. It is a complicated patchwork of provisions drafted by and for the benefit of certain powerful Democratic constituents, including hospitals, doctors, unions, drug manufacturers, and the super wealthy. However, the point of this is not to address the structural flaws, but the opinion on the Constitutionality of the decision.

First, the good news: Obama loses on two points. (1) By upholding the ObamaCare, Obama has lost one of his biggest rallying cries for the November elections, which would have been the need to replace ObamaCare and replace a "conservative" court. With an immediate threat to ObamaCare out of the way, Obama will see some of his base lose their zeal. (2) Also, by its decisions that ObamaCare is a tax, although Obama swore up one side and down another it was NOT a tax, it has created a powerful argument for Romney--it is a huge tax on the middle-class, and Obama lied about that to get it passed.

Now the bad news: While the case appears to be a victory for limitations on government power under the commerce clause, holding that the government cannot regulate "non-activity," that victory is illusory. Once again, the Supreme Court has held that the government can regulate conduct through its taxing power of what would otherwise be impermissible under the Constitution. In this case, the Court held that the government could not force a person to purchase insurance, but it could tax him (i.e., punish him) if he did not, which amounts to same thing. Where will this go? Will we see people getting taxed if they do not allow the government to conduct random searches of their homes and and persons? We do not have to allow the government to quarter troops in our homes, but they can tax us if we do not? The Supreme Court was supposed to reign in excesses by the legislative and executive branches, not be a whip to hurry them on into the very excesses the Constitution was designed to prevent. In this case, the Court has failed miserably.

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